Creating Meaning Together: A Selection of Collaborative Artists’ Books

July 11, 2014

—This post was contributed by Rita Sausmikat and Maya Riser-Kositsky, interns at the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library summer 2014. An “artist’s book” can generally be defined as a work of art in book form, though this guideline is interpreted and finessed to fit the artist’s vision. Commonly, artists’ books are portable and interactive, and utilize a plethora of methods, technologies, and materials. Just as with artwork, artists’ books often more »

Discovering the artwork of the original AA/PG Library

~This post was written by Katherine Williamson, an intern at the American Art/ Portrait Gallery library. As part of my work as an American Art/Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG) intern, I answer reference questions from patrons that involve some type of research, either within our collection or using  online sources that the library subscribes to. One of the most interesting reference questions I have received actually came from our Head Librarian, Doug Litts. Through his own research involving the original location of the AA/PG library – Room 331 of the main museum building – he came across a list of paintings, a marble bust and a cast iron sculpture, that were located in what was known as the NCFA/NPG Library when it was housed in the museum. Through circumstances unknown to us, those artworks were never transported to the Victor Building when the library moved here in 2000. He became very interested in the history of the artworks, as well as where they are now, and recruited me to help him more »

Joseph Stella: Best of Both Worlds

May 14, 2014

-This post was written by American Art/Portrait Gallery Library (AAPG) Spring 2014 intern Sara Cecilia Johnson. Joseph Stella’s paintings sit quietly, unnoticed on the second floor of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. People often pass them by, maybe one or two stopping to admire the vibrant color or dynamic movement, but otherwise Stella remains an obscure, unfamiliar name to the average American. What they don’t know about is his striking spectrum of more »

The “O’Connor File” and the WPA

- This post was contributed by Kelsey Clark, intern at the Smithsonian AA/PG Library summer 2013. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created during the Great Depression as the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of people to carry out public works. This included artists, such as William Gropper, Marsden Hartley, Henry Varnum Poor, or Ben Shahn, who painted murals across the nation, from inside Coit Tower in San Francisco to the Harlem Hospital in New York City. The Smithsonian Libraries collection has books and archival material on the WPA projects, including a file on one man intimately connected to the government project: Dr. Francis V. O’Connor. During my internship, I was given the “O’Connor File” as a research project – a box filled with files containing published articles and books he had written, archival notes, and letter correspondence between the former Librarians at the National Portrait Gallery and various patrons concerning the rights to read some mysterious “questionnaires” that were somehow connected to O’Connor and the WPA. What were more »

Downtown Progress, 1960-1977

August 16, 2013

  This post was contributed by Kaitlyn Tanis, intern at the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library. Walking around downtown Washington, D.C. (located between the Capitol and the White House) is always a sight to behold. Between the grand marble buildings, the throngs of tourists, museums, and the vast number of restaurants, downtown D.C. represents the diversity and beauty of the city. However, the area was not always a thriving tourist destination.  Pre- more »

The Riots at New York

This post was written by Erin Friel, an intern at the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library, January-May 2013. Currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) is the installation “Bound for Freedom’s Light: African Americans and the Civil War,” which showcases portraits of familiar figures such as Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth, as well as contemporary news illustrations of lesser-known events. Those who would like to learn more about some of the topics in the exhibit can find information in the excellent resources at the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG).

African American art and the Harmon Foundation

  When wealthy real estate developer William Elmer Harmon founded the Harmon Foundation in 1922, it originally supported causes as varied as playgrounds, biblical films and nursing programs. But it is better known today as one of the first major supporters of African American creativity and ingenuity.

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